German farmers protested in Berlin on Monday against government plans to cut tax breaks for diesel, a key resource in agriculture. The measure, described as part of a wider “budget restructuring”, has raised concerns about the impact on rural businesses.
Last Wednesday, the German government reached a deal to try to resolve a budget crisis and stick to plans to increase support for the war in Ukraine. Germany’s highest court overturned the government’s decision to reallocate 60 billion euros that were originally intended to cushion the negative effects of the coronavirus policy, but were instead to be used for climate policy and also to modernize the country, AP reports. The decision left 17 billion missing from next year’s budget.
One of the decisions in the agreement was that the government would generate the missing billions by eliminating tax breaks for farmers on diesel fuel.
On Monday, 1700 tractors blocked the road leading to the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin to protest the government’s decision. Farmers point out that the removal of the tax breaks will cost the sector around €1 billion a year and that many farmers are already struggling, expressing strong concern that the decision will force more farmers into bankruptcy.
– Today we have sent a clear signal to the federal government: Withdraw the tax increases for agriculture, farmer Joachim Rukwied told Politico. Enough is enough, it must be withdrawn. This policy must come to an end, otherwise a change of government is necessary, he continued.
Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir and Finance Minister Christian Lindner addressed the farmers during Monday’s protest, expressing their own reservations about the government’s decision.
– I don’t think much of the cuts on this scale and I didn’t think much of them in the past, Özdemir told the audience. On the contrary: I warned the federal government against it. I am fighting in the Cabinet to ensure that it does not come to this extent, he said.
Earlier this year, farmers in the Netherlands protested against the government’s environmental proposal to reduce nitrogen emissions, which in practice means that many farms will be forced to significantly reduce production or close down completely. The protests were widespread and gave a huge boost to the new farmers’ party BBB in this year’s regional elections, where it won more than 19% of the vote.